Thursday, December 06, 2007

All I Want For Chanuka...Is For New York To Be Just Like Zabar's

To see me on the street, you'd never guess that inside this Bungalow Babelicious bod resides a grumpy old lady. Lately, however, everything in this town has been getting on my nerves...leading me to upgrade one of my favorite part-time activities -- kvetching -- to full-time status.
As I've blogged recently, the inconsiderate locker room behavior of my fellow Upper West Siders has been a source of irritation, then again, it hardly compares to the menacing, loud and potentially lethal threat posed daily by NYC teens on our city's subways.
A recent video has been making the rounds, showing a group of loud and obnoxious black girls verbally and then physically harassing a white guy on the A train. The video's posted on one of my fave sites -- Gawker ( -- where the reader feedback is heated. An article about it occupies an entire page of today's New York Daily News.
While the veracity of the video is being questioned, it sure has touched a nerve among its viewers. To read Gawker's readers' comments is to discover a fellowship of urbanites who are all-too-familiar with the incidence of menacing teens in this town, especially on the subway. The racial component is either irrelevant or highly relevant, I cannot decide. reaction to outta-control teens who hold entire subways cars hostage to their thuggery (during daylight hours, at least) is annoyance, not fear. Frankly, I want them to shut the $%&* up, get off my train, stop terrorizing little kids and old people and everyone in between and learn some basic respect for humanity. I want them to stop ruining the quality of life in this town. I want them to get the message that their behavior is unacceptable...and has repercussions.
This is such a ubiquitous problem that I am astonished that Mayor Bloomberg hasn't devoted himself to the task of cleaning up our subways -- coming down hard on the offenders, dispatching SWAT teams, if necessary to patrol the subways and start handing out summonses for offensive behavior. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that there is no disincentive for these vilde chayahs to continue their wilding. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that New York's Finest are busy putting tickets on improperly parked vehicles during the very hours they should be maintaining a watch on our subway system.
No one, it seems, is minding the store.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Yesterday, while hurling myself against the windy gusts that were sweeping up Broadway, I was hit in the legs by flying debris. An entire stretch of Upper West Side sidewalk, from 82nd to 83rd Street was covered with fallen leaves, papers, crinkly cellophane and empty plastic bags.
It used to just be midtown, but Manhattan's mess is now spreading upward. I don't know who to blame for this...the a$$&*!es who throw their trash on the ground despite the fact that there is a garbage can on every single city block, the store owners who are too busy raking in the holiday bucks or the city's sanitation and maintenance workers.
All I know is that it's making me kvetchier and kvetchier, putting me deeper and deeper into an I Hate New York state of mind.
And speaking of is my final kvetch of the day, though it has nothing to do with New York City, per se. I am bloody SICK of hearing Christmas music in almost every single store I go into, a public plague that kicks in the day after Thanksgiving and infects the entire nation.
I am tired of the fascistic imposition of a regime of over-played melodies and songs conveying false cheer and relating to a holiday that not all of us celebrate, a holiday that itself has been hijacked by the spirit of consumerism. What is especially annoying is the juxtaposition between the upbeat holiday songs and the often-surly behavior of the store clerks. For an especially unpleasant shopping experience, I highly recommend The Gap on W86th Street and Broadway, a poorly-managed emporium where the clerks are either mentally-impaired or winners of the World's Most Hostile Store Employees contest... or both.
The faux holiday spirit is a problem with America, however, and the entire nation would do well to see the brilliant Reverend Billy documentary -- What Would Jesus Buy? -- which I blogged about last week. Watching WWJB?...and actually meeting Rev. Billy last week at a live performance with the choir of his Church of Stop Shopping at a club in Chelsea... I was reassured that my grumpy reaction to the pervasive Christmas spirit in stores was not, alas, anti-Christian.
I was also heartened to hear my Christmas-related kvetchiness affirmed by Big Babe, who has been visiting from Berlin this past month. Returning home two nights ago for Chanuka candlelighting, having been dispatched by me to do food shopping, Big Babe stated that the ubiquitous public Christmas soundtrack was really getting on his nerves.
The one Upper West Side store that was refreshingly Christmas Music-free, he reported, was Zabar's.
Which made me realize that the last bastion of hope on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, nay, the entire island of Manhattan, is Zabar's.
In addition to its unparalleled stock of foodstuffs and kitchen supplies and refreshingly Christmas music-free ambiance, there are no out-of-control teens patrolling the store, terrorizing the customers. The sidewalk in front of the store is always clean. Best of all, however, the same women who leave their wet towels in the steam room at the JCC (which Zabar's supports, incidentally), yap loudly on their cellphones and let their little kids run amok or sing their heads off in the locker room of that venerable establishment are on their very best behavior within the haven of the store that Saul built.
In a city where no one is minding the store, I nominate Saul Zabar, the city's best storeowner, for the position of Mayor of New York City. I also nominate myself to be his campaign manager, a position I am free to take now that it is clear that Stephen Colbert is not running for Prez and therefore does not need my services. I am confident of victory, as we will be running on a Quality of Life platform.
All I want for Chanuka is for New York to be just like Zabar's.

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